I was taught years ago the most important component in selling was listening. Hear what your prospect has to say and respond instead of providing a laundry list of services that may not be needed. The same concept applies to the call center: listening is a critical skill.
No one contacts a call center just to chat; there is a reason. Something prompted a person to pick up the phone. People are busy and customers can Google any subject and get an encyclopedia of information.
So, why do people contact a call center? Either, they can’t easily find an answer or a solution. Most often, this is a first time event and there is anxiety:
- How long will I have to hold on?
- Will the representative be able to answer my question and help me?
- Will the person on the other end of the phone be friendly or nasty or sound bored?
Here are seven tips to improve the call center interaction:
- Your automated response message should be a friendly and upbeat voice. Using one of the representatives to record the message adds a personal touch.
- Always provide an estimated hold time. There is no excuse with modern technology not to set an expectation and there is no reason to be on hold for more than five minutes. Skilled management is crucial in the call center.
- A big hello is essential; the rep should be friendly and state her name. “Hi, this is Sue, how can I help you today?”
- Allow the customer to speak. Listen not only for words, but emotion. If a person sounds frustrated, say: “You sound frustrated. How can I help you?”
- Acknowledge the customer and their loyalty and previous purchases. It is possible this is a long time patron and there have never been any issues, say: “Thank you for being such a loyal customer. May I ask you a few questions so I can help you.”
- Empower your employees. Give agents a dollar amount every month to use at their discretion to make a customer happy. Within reason, the representatives should have the authority and flexibility to resolve an issue on the first call.
- The contact center is the home of the company. Have your agents think about ways that they make their guests feel welcomed in their own homes and how some of the actions can be applied to the customers that need their help every day of the year.
Call center representatives are the voice of your company. Provide training, coaching, and technology to support their efforts. Listen to your agents; their feedback is vital. Hire staff who can be empowered to make decisions and couple that with flexibility and friendly policies. The call center is the place to generate repeat business. That is the bottom line.